The Ennis Public Theatre kicked off its sixth season with a packed house and a feel-good story that reminded the audience that sometimes the things being sought in life aren’t always what are received.
“You Can’t Get There From Here”, written by Pat Cook is a look into the possibilities of what can happen when a person least expects it.
The story finds the character of Arthur, played by Joshua Reed, stuck in a small town in an even smaller house with two women who desperately try to make a love connection between him and their niece. Arthur transitions from being a high strung, cut-throat journalist, to a laid back country boy after he falls for Ann, much to her aunts’ delight.
Having had some experience in Shakespearian roles, Reed brings an element of humor that is worthy of being part of a Comedy of Errors, especially with the phone prop malfunction on opening night. Much to his credit, Reed pulled off a stellar performance despite the change in plans. His debut performance at the theatre is one that will hopefully see him return many times in the future.
His unwilling love interest Ann, is played by Samantha Spradling, who also made her Ennis Public Theatre debut seem like that of a veteran performer. She brought a level of feistiness that might not have been pulled off by some but that seems to suit her well. Her character moves from being the long-suffering albeit patient recipient of her aunts’ matchmaking attempts to being the love interest that Arthur has not bargained for. Her character also helped tame the antics of her aunt Myrtle’s character, played by Portia Rogers Lewis who makes her third appearance the theatre.
Myrtle, who also doubles as the manager of many of the towns municipal services, is a theatric soul with a tendency for Shakespearian outbursts. She bellows out random, but timely memorable lines from various Shakespearian plays with gusto as she sets about protecting her family and her home from the invasion of the people from the big city. Her zany personality and offbeat actions left the audience howling with laughter as the eccentric and colorful Myrtle helped save the day.
Myrtle’s character is only tempered and somewhat kept in check by the character of Myrtle’s sister Liz, played by Caryn Spaniel, who is no stranger to the stage. Spaniel has performed in many other theatres and was also a cast member of last’s seasons musical, Godspell. Liz is a ‘wise beyond her years’ type of person whose insightful remarks help not only Arthur, but her family come to see that sometimes the road between getting what you want and what you need intersect. Her constant backhanded musings on situations were as funny as Myrtle’s overtly dramatic tirades. Look for Spaniel to be a regular with the theatre as the scope of her talent continues to broaden.
The actress that seems to always play the character everyone loves to hate, did an outstanding job of making the audience glad when she finally got what was coming to her. Barbara Wolff Webb, a 20 year veteran of the Ennis ISD plays the role of the mean spirited Delores so well that when she finally gets dragged around the block by the family’s unruly dog, no one is sad to see her go. She is very convincible as the tart-tongued editor who is only after the one story that will make her boss get off her back and land her in his good graces. However, what she doesn’t count on is the ingenuity of Liz, Myrtle and Queenie.
Queenie, played by Delinda Ruffino is the local newspaper editor with a secret that Delores and Arthur would love to know. Ruffino made her acting debut on opening night and is a natural. The audience was left in the dark as to her secret right until the very end of the play when she revealed her sneaky and talented side by fooling Delores into giving up what she came for in the first place. It will be a treat to watch Ruffino’s career blossom and continue in future performances.
The last member of the cast and the last character is that of Horace McClintock played by John Schwartz. Schwartz is a valued contributor to the theatre having appeared in numerous productions and offers his skills as the technical director when not on stage. His character does a great job of tying up loose ends for the audience and giving the hateful Delores a lesson in manners. He is very convincing as the mild-mannered voice of reason and brought stability to the production.
New items at the theatre this season include the look of the programs, with added sponsors and contributors and a chance for regular attendees to take part in an awards ceremony. The theatre will host the “Ennie” awards, to be voted on by those attending this season’s productions. The categories for the awards will be determined at a later date but could include best actor/actress and best performance.
The current production runs until Aug. 25 with Friday and Saturday night performances starting at 8 p.m. and a special Sunday matinee on Aug. 26 with a start time of 2:30 p.m. For ticket prices and more information, contact the theatre at 972-878-PLAY (7529).
E-mail Candie at firstname.lastname@example.org